Chatham County female farmer takes growing back to her Southern roots

CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- In rural northern Chatham County, on 15 acres of land sits Green Heffa Farms. Clarenda Stanley is the owner, doubling as a full-time global fundraiser for an environmental organization, and full-time farmer.

" I help represent a movement of Black women who are returning to the land, by their own commitment to quality of life," said Stanley. "We are a boutique medicinal plants and herb farm. We actually produce for our own line of products, which includes several herbal teas and steams."

Stanley was raised on a farm in the Black Belt of Alabama by her grandparents. Farming is in her heart. In February 2020, she launched Green Heffa Farms, a Certified B Corporation.

On the front lawn of the farm sits a bathtub next to a water hose. There's a good reason for it.

"We call it the ranching station. When we bring things in from the field that are really dirty, we often wrench it before you rinse it," laughed Stanley.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows more women taking up farming. In fact, more than half of all farms have a female producer who is more likely to be a beginning farmer and live on the farm they operate. Numbers show there are 1.2 million female farmers across the country. White women top the list at 1.1 million. Hispanic female farmers come in second at 39,252.

American Indians or Alaska natives make up 26,648. There are about 13,002 Black female farmers and nearly 10,000 Asian female farmers.

Farmer Cee calls her farm a seed-to-sip operation. She's turned a sharecropper's cabin built in the late 1800s into her tea cabin, where she dries and blends herbs for packaging.

As International Women's Day comes to a close with a theme of Break the Bias, Stanley encourages everyone to see farming as she does.

"I also see our farm as a way to help break the bias with how people look at Black farms. We give back to the community. We're philanthropic," she said.
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